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Plays Extend: Later, Hedda, Woman, Mousetrap, 39

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Christopher Shinn’s US election drama Now or Later, which premiered last week to critical acclaim (See Review Round-up, 15 Sep 2008), has extended by a fortnight at the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, where it will now run until 1 November, just before the real-life presidential contest between Barack Obama and John McCain on 4 November.

Eddie Redmayne (pictured) and Matthew Marsh star in the timely exploration of the tension between liberalism and fundamentalism in American politics (See 1st Night Photos, 12 Sep 2008). On election night, things are looking rosy for the Democratic party. But as the likely President-elect (Marsh), his wife, advisors and 20-year-old son watch the results roll in, controversial photos of John Jr (Redmayne) are gathering momentum on the internet and the press team are working on damage limitation. Father and son must reach an agreement.

The cast also features Nancy Crane, Adam James, Pamela Nomvete and Domhnall Gleeson. The premiere production of Now or Later is directed by Royal Court artistic director Dominic Cooke and designed by Hildegard Bechtler, with lighting by Charles Balfour and sound by Ian Dickinson.

** DON’T MISS our Whatsonstage.com Outing to NOW OR LATER on 24 September 2008 – including a FREE drink & our EXCLUSIVE post-show Q&A Eddie Redmayne, Matthew Marsh & Dominic Cooke – all for just £25! - click here for more info! **

In other play extension news:

  • Hedda, Lucy Kirkwood’s 21st-century re-imagining of another Ibsen’s 1890 classic Hedda Gabler, will play for an extra week at west London’s Gate Theatre where it opened on 28 August 2008 (previews from 21 August) and will now continue until 4 October (See News, 17 Jul 2008). Cara Horgan takes the title role, alongside Adrian Bower, Christopher Obi and Alice Patten. Gate joint artistic director Carrie Cracknell directs.

  • In the West End, the Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award-winning comedy The 39 Steps has announced another seven-month extension at the Criterion Theatre, where it’s now booking through to 6 September 2009. In Patrick Barlow’s stage adaptation of the John Buchan whodunit, inspired by the 1935 Alfred Hitchcock film, four actors play “150 roles” between them to tell the tale of London bachelor Richard Hannay fleeing to Scotland and breaking a spy ring to prove his innocence after a woman is found murdered in his home. The current West End cast is Jo Stone-Fewing (as Hannay), Martyn Ellis, Alan Perrin and Josefina Gabrielle, who is succeeded by Tess Churchard from 13 October. Maria Aitken directs.

  • At the Fortune Theatre, The Woman in Black has opened a new seven-month booking period, taking it up to 25 July 2009. Susan Hill’s 1970s novel, a ghost story told through the eyes of a keen young solicitor sent to a secluded house to wind up the affairs of a recently deceased woman, was adapted for the stage by Stephen Mallatratt. Originally produced at Scarborough\'s Stephen Joseph Theatre in December 1987, The Woman in Black has been seen by over two million theatregoers since opening in London in 1989. The new West End cast of the spooky two-hander, directed by Robin Herford, is Andrew Jarvis and Tim Watson.

  • Finally, at the St Martin\'s Theatre, Agatha Christie\'s The Mousetrap, which is in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest-running play, has announced a new six-month booking period, taking it up to 16 May 2009. The classic whodunit - which celebrated its 50th West End anniversary, with HM The Queen in attendance, on 25 November 2002 - has become a Theatreland institution. The show originally opened next door at the Ambassadors and transferred to St Martin’s, after 20 years in its original home, in 1974. The Mousetrap is directed by David Turner.

    - by Terri Paddock

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